Helmut Marko reveals Adrian Newey’s complaints about Red Bull wind tunnel

Sam Cooper
Red Bull chiefs Adrian Newey and Helmut Marko. Austin October 2022.

Adrian Newey and Helmut Marko celebrate Red Bull being crowned Constructors' champions. Austin October 2022.

Helmut Marko has been explaining why a wartime building has been proving a headache for Red Bull’s chief technology officer Adrian Newey.

Newey has garnered a reputation as perhaps the greatest designer ever in the sport having been the architect of eleven Constructors’ Championship-winning cars.

With his senior position at one of the top teams in Red Bull, you would think he had everything at his disposal to make them a continued success but it appears that is not the case.

The team are based in Milton Keynes, 50 miles outside of London, and took over the factory from previous occupants Jaguar Racing and, before that, Stewart Grand Prix.

But the wind tunnel which the team uses is not actually situated at their Milton Keynes base and is instead at an old RAF facility site which means it is a listed building.

The tunnel, which was built shortly after WWII, has been described as a “relic of the Cold War” by team principal Christian Horner and is said to be drastically affected by the temperature outside.

With that in mind, Red Bull have opted to build a new one in Milton Keynes although Marko has warned it will be “two to three years before everything is ready.”

“The problem with our wind tunnel is that it is a post-war product,” he told Auto Motor und Sport. “It was built by the British Ministry of Defence. It’s a listed building.

“It’s incredibly long and not insulated. It takes a while to heat up. When it’s cold outside, it takes even longer.

“That’s why we are now building a new wind tunnel on our premises. Which is actually idiotic because the whole development is going towards CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) simulations. That’s another 50 million because no agreement could be reached.

“The building is already there. The wind tunnel will practically be moved into it. But it will probably take another two to three years before everything is ready.”

Wind tunnels are set to be phased out of the sport by 2030 which is a move Newey agrees with, stating in May that he would prefer everything be CFD development.

“It just takes too long for us to ramp up to the desired wind speed,” he said. “And that steals significantly relevant wind tunnel time that we’re actually entitled to.

“I would keep everything full CFD [Computational Fluid Dynamics] development. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough votes for that, although it would be much more sustainable. The usual suspects are against it.”

Read more: Red Bull’s ex-engineering chief thinks Max Verstappen is still ‘weak technically’